Thursday, November 6, 2008

Trick or Treat

We survived another Halloween—this year with a surplus of candy. (Treat!) In past years, there’s been a mad rush at the door and we’ve had to ration candy toward the end of the night. (Trick.) Not so this year. (Treat!) It was fairly quiet and with friends over to visit (our summer houseguest Ripple’s people) who helped man the door, it was more fun: I had time to sit back, sip on wine, and toss down candy. (Treat!) Unfortunately, wine and too much candy made for a nasty stomach situation later on. (Trick.)

I didn’t bother to dress Leo in his Elvis costume, or even put the jack-o-lantern handkerchief on him (the one that the groomer sent him home in a few weeks ago). Why bother? We had to shut Leo and Ripple (who got along just fine this time) in the kitchen because every time a trick-or-treater knocked on the door, both dogs went berserk and barked up a storm.

Could Leo read my facial expression and tell that I was annoyed when he barked at our little candy-seeking visitors? Though a study cited in this article on findingDulcinea might suggest yes, I would probably say no.

He does respond to my emotions—that I really do believe—but I think he picks up on auditory cues. When he hears my husband and me arguing, he’ll come and sit by my side, as though to guard me. To fully understand the significance of this, you have to understand that Leo doesn’t budge from his couch and fuzzy blanket and pillow but for two things: the suggestion of a walk or a morsel to eat. The fact that a verbal argument inspires him to leave the comfort of his fuzzy nest and seek me out is remarkable.

Still, his guarding me is probably more about protecting the source of his walks and meals and fuzzy blanket and pillow--that would be me--and less about being in tune with my emotional needs.

He is a male dog, after all. (!)